Congress returned to session last week after taking a month off to visit district offices and constituents. Congress' special deficit-reduction committee, which represents the best opportunity for online poker legislation to pass this year, met for the first time Thursday.
The Poker Players Alliance urged its membership to use the recess to contact representatives and voice their support for the licensing and regulation of Internet poker. Some in the PPA went the extra mile to meet with representatives or their aides at their local offices or town hall meetings.
Rich Muny, the PPA's vice president of player relations, attended a local event in Kentucky where he met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kent.) and Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Kent.). Two PPA members posted on the TwoPlusTwo.com Forums of attending local town hall meetings to talk to their Congressmen, one with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and one with Rich Nugent (R-Fla.). Another PPA member visited the office of his local senator to talk poker with an aide of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the deficit reduction super committee.
In addition to the in-person meetings, PPA members used social networking to show their numbers to lawmakers. Muny organized and focused membership on one representative each day through his postings as "TheEngineer" on the TwoPlusTwo.com Forums.
Using Facebook and Twitter, Muny directed participants to hit each of the lawmakers on the committee during the month. The social-network assault began in May but really took off in August, with comments and "likes" on Facebook averaging more than 100 per day. They had never hit triple digits in likes before August.
"Participation went up dramatically during August," Muny said. "The guys did a great job. Most comments by others don't even get a single like, so for us to come in there in the hundreds is huge for the medium. There's great participation and very few anti-poker responses. I looked at it as a great August for us, especially with the super committee coming up."
Toward the end of last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked for Twitter followers to tweet him questions for his upcoming town hall meeting. Muny put the PPA membership on the case and Reid was bombarded with questions on poker legislation. As of Sunday night, Reid had received more than 350 tweets on poker, which was well more than all other topics combined.
The deficit reduction super committee will hold its first public hearing Tuesday. The committee has until Nov. 23 to vote on a plan for $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, which would then have to be submitted to the president and Congress by Dec. 2 and voted on by both houses by Dec. 23.
Muny will continue his planned daily social networking calls to action, in which poker players can make a difference each day while taking up less than a minute of their time. The latest assignment is always updated in the first post on the TwoPlusTwo Forums.
"What this does is, when our lobbyists show up to Congressional offices in D.C. in September, it will give them the ammo they need to back up what they're saying with the support of American citizens," Muny said.
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